Children living in conditions of high vulnerability, including refugees, those living in conflict affected areas, displaced children, and those in orphanages represent a population at particularly high risk of poor developmental outcome. These complex events offer opportunities to generate knowledge about the child’s growth and development, and to consider if growth is predisposed in the child’s DNA or more affected by life experiences and the environment. Both nature (genetics) and nurture (epigenetics) affect birth and growth, but the relative importance of these factors is unknown and difficult to determine from data generated from planned hypothesis-driven clinical studies.
The START team was engaged by the foundation to conduct a literature review of growth and development patterns of children in these settings needed to inform interventional strategies that maximize impact in all children at risk of poor growth and developmental outcomes. The results of the analysis will inform a data-driven integrated approach to better understand the effects of genetics and epigenetics on the birth-to-reproduction life cycle. As part of this research request, the START team drafted a manuscript summarizing methods, results and lessons learned from the START growth and nutrition interventions project to review interventions to promote linear growth. To date this manuscript is in the final stages of review prior to journal submission.